the Themes

The value of memory and the building of a civil conscience

Memory is like a huge storehouse in which we keep records of past experience that we can consult whenever we need to deal with present and future life challenges. “Neither a static nor a passive archive, memory is an active force that builds for us representations of the world. Understood in this sense, memory works by reconstructing rather than by reproducing”[1].

Memory is therefore akin to a meeting place, a place for the reception as well as the transmission of knowledge and experience; it is a dynamic and generative force that, far from remaining narrowly closed in itself, is future-oriented. Or, as Victor Hugo put it, “If the future is a door, the past is the key.” For it is through knowledge of our past and our roots that we define our identity, and through acknowledgement of the past that we can recover our sense of belonging.

“Unlike recollection, memory does not just offer a representation of things from the past, but also impresses in the mind of humanity ideas from which we derive culture and knowledge and that provide us with food for thought. By fixing an idea in our minds rather than a mere representation of the past, memory prevents history from repeating itself. When planning or engaging in a collective act of remembrance and reflection, we need to acknowledge that whenever a person is persecuted or discriminated against because of their identity, skin colour, background, social class, religion, sexual orientation or origin, this is an instance of history repeating itself, which is something we must never allow to happen. We would do well to remember that while we human beings are certainly capable of creating horrific situations, we are equally capable of renouncing our capacity for horror at any time. We can free ourselves. We can make sure the horror does not return. We can do so by allowing different and interdependent identities and subjectivities to coexist”[2]. We can do so by being welcoming of others. We can break down the walls of self-interest and transcend our fond beliefs in our own supremacy. We should never arrogate to ourselves the right to presume what is "normal" and what is "superior."



Designing for occupational health and safety

Designing for health and safety means taking concrete and definitive actions that address questions of responsibility and accountability. Health and safety is the locution we use in reference to what are two of the key factors of our existence, as well as effective indicators of the level of civilization of a country. Occupational health and safety (OHS) and wellbeing are a natural consequence of careful planning that takes account of the workplace as a space, the actions and movements of workers in that space, and the skills that the work demands. Consequently, OHS necessarily encompasses teaching activities and professional training. "Training,” as Hans Jonas said, “acquires an ethical value and becomes a crucial element for remaining part of society.”

Training and learning in this context refer to the systematic adoption of methods and rules, especially rules of prevention and protection, that are designed to prevent exposure to the risks associated with job performance at any level. Business leaders are bound by duty to act responsibly in respect of risk prevention and training.

“The approval of the 2030 Agenda marked a step towards joined-up thinking about work, whereby all objectives receive the attention they merit. Joined-up thinking considers the economic, social and environmental aspects of work while pursuing the objectives of putting an end to poverty, restoring dignity to people, and preserving nature and the environment” . The National Prevention Plan 2022-2025 underscores the concept that health is the natural outcome of the harmonious and sustainable development of human beings, nature and the environment (One Health). Inherent in the concept is the recognition that human, animal and environmental health are interconnected. The One Health approach is cross-disciplinary in that it simultaneously addresses disparate issues such as biodiversity, human health, antimicrobial resistance, epidemics and pandemics. The strategically innovative element in the Plan is its support for a reorientation of the entire OHS system away from risk prevention towards health promotion. It therefore makes the development of interdisciplinary empowerment and capacity-building strategies central to the achievement of all macro-objectives.

Integrated services management under the ‘new normal’

Integrated services management is a measure of the modernity of a country’s or a community’s system of production. Integrated services management is a type of executive practice that takes into joint and simultaneous consideration all the various aspects of a given service.

The practice is perfectly encapsulated and exemplified in facility management.

Facility management entails the coordinated delivery of several services that, though distinct from one another, are delivered to the same workplace, and can thus be said to contribute to the achievement of a common goal. The pandemic highlighted how, both in the public and in the private sector, cleaning and sanitation services contributed to the containment of infection and thus also to the widespread availability of healthy environments. It also highlighted the need for an in-depth and wide-ranging analysis of what we might call our ‘new priorities.’ Digital and other technologies have already increased the organizational autonomy of today’s freelance and contract workers, whose autonomy is expected to increase still further. Meanwhile, all places of work have seen a decline in the number of generalist professions. The "new normal” refers to the world that emerged from the pandemic with the realization that society now needs to embark on a new path. Under the new normal, all of us, acting from an informed and conscientious perspective, must do all in our power to retain and, if possible, expand the improved OHS standards that we have now attained.

A scrupulous systemic diagnosis of the new situation is needed, and all service providers in the chain of production need to acknowledge the changes that have taken place, for we need to redraw the boundaries of our activities, reorganize operations to meet new needs, and re-assign and re-designate job titles, skills and responsibilities as we move into the unfamiliar terrain of living in a state of uncertainty.